South Africa’s energy transition will be a balancing act, says Mantashe

 ·12 Oct 2022

Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe says renewable energy remains a major contributor to ensuring the country’s energy security both now and in the long term.

Mantashe was speaking at the 11th annual Windaba – South Africa’s wind energy conference and exhibition – held at the Cape Town International Conference Centre.

“Security of energy supply is a priority for the government and our preoccupation as the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Access to sustainable, affordable, and reliable energy is crucial for economic growth and attaining sustainable development goals.

“Clean energy, including wind power, is set to be a major contributor to a global and sustainable energy system. Wind energy is becoming one of the lowest cost clean energy sources for new electricity,” he said.

According to the Minister, through the government’s Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP), 32 wind energy projects, in particular, were already contributing some 3 063MW of energy to the grid and had a positive social impact.

“Wind energy projects have contributed to electricity generation during morning and evening peak demand here in South Africa.

“The 32 wind energy projects have created over 23 000 job opportunities, and a total of [at least] R18.9 billion has been committed to socio-economic development and enterprise development initiatives,” he said.

Mantashe said that coupled with the REIPPP, government developments are creating an enabling environment for investment into renewable energy. These developments include:

  • The issuing of another Section 34 Ministerial Determination for renewable energy and storage totalling 14 791MW.
  • The exemption of embedded generation facility of any size from the need to be licensed by the Regulator.
  • Eskom making land available for renewable energy projects.
  • The review and updating of the Integrated Resource Plan.

Reflecting on the country’s transition towards lower carbon emissions, Mantashe reiterated the government’s stance that the energy transition will be a careful balancing act.

The transition, he said, will be “informed by our national circumstance, capabilities, and the need to maintain energy security in support of economic growth and poverty alleviation”.

The minister emphasised that this transition will include the “innovative use” of energy sources such as solar, wind, nuclear, water, coal, oil and gas.

“[Clean] energy technologies, including renewable energy and their deployment, is central to our efforts to move from high to low carbon emissions. However, the continued polarized debate amongst technologies needs to come to an end. South Africa must pursue mixed technologies unashamed to address energy poverty and ensure energy supply security.

“[We] intend to move from high carbon emissions to low carbon emissions. However, we will do this in a manner that does not undermine our energy security, economic growth plans and sustainability of local communities,” he said.

Read: Meeting South Africa’s electricity demand: why the numbers are not likely to add up

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